NAFTA’s Long Shadow: Where immigration and economic policy meet

SPOHP alumna and longtime research collaborator Dr. Sarah McNamara was published on Public Seminar with an essay titled, “NAFTA’s Long Shadow Where immigration and economic policy meet.” Sarah is a professor and historian at Texas A & M University whose work centers on Latinx, women and gender, and labor in the modern United States. Read a sample of her essay below:

“Congressional Democrats and Republicans regularly play the blame game about why there’s no immigration reform. But each party fails to point the finger at one of the major culprits behind the contemporary immigration waves and this political morass: NAFTA.

The signing of NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) in the 1990s linked Canada, the U.S., and Mexico in an economic partnership that benefited corporations and the U.S. economy but had profound human consequences. One result of this policy was the migration of women and men to the U.S. from Mexico and the precarious status many undocumented youth and their families live with today.

The Trump administration’s decision to rescind DACA prior to the passage of the DREAM Act was unethical because it overlooked the connection between the presence of undocumented youth and multinational free-trade policies. DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) existed because Congress repeatedly failed to pass the Development Relief for Alien Minors Act, commonly known as the DREAM Act, between 2001 and 2012. While the DREAM Act is a bipartisan bill with bipartisan support that would lead to permanent residency for undocumented youth, DACA was an executive action signed by Obama that granted temporary legal status and work permits to undocumented youth in exchange for registering with Homeland Security and going through a stringent vetting process. These “dreamers” and their families live in the United States due to, in part, economic choices the United States has made.”

Read the full Public Seminar article here now!

Dr. McNamara is currenty at work on her first book, tentatively titled, “From Picket Lines to Picket Fences: Latinas and the Remaking of the Jim Crow South.” Her manuscript traces the transformation of Latina/o politics and culture between the Great Depression and the civil rights movement in Florida by examining the choices immigrant Cuban and later American-born Latinas made to achieve political representation and social justice for themselves and their community. Her work has received support from the American Historical Association, the Tulane Center for the Gulf South, the American Libraries Association, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.